Appearing in a Court or Tribunal is a novel and foreign concept for many people. However, as a result of recent changes to strata legislation appearing in ACAT is becoming a more common occurrence for owners corporations, committee members, unit owners and strata managers.
While ACAT is considered to be a more informal forum than a Court, it still pays to be prepared before your appearance. The reality is that parties often have less than an hour to present their case which has normally arisen over a period of months or even years.
Some practical tips that help both lawyers and self-represented parties to prepare for hearings include confirming the legal basis of your case (for example checking if there is a provision in the Unit Titles (Management) Act 2011 that covers your issue), filing succinct clear written submissions in support of your case well in advance of the hearing and ensuring you take all relevant evidence to the hearing.
At the hearing, make sure you are on time, you address the Tribunal member as “Sir” or “Ma’am” and you do not interrupt the other party.
For particularly complex matters, engaging a lawyer to represent you or your owners corporation can ensure the merits of your case are presented to the Tribunal at their highest. Obtaining preliminary legal advice to establish the merits of your case can also help focus and direct your case in a way that will be meaningful to the Tribunal member should you choose to represent yourself at a hearing.
Posted by Nicole Wilde
Posted by Michael Teys